On Friday, September 29, 2017, the Emerald Heights community—residents, staff, past and present board members for Eastside Retirement Association and Emerald Communities, key business partners and other friends—came together for a 25th Anniversary Gala Celebration.
Special honors were given to many guests in recognition of the role they played in Emerald Heights. Residents Jane Turnbull, Bill Dumar and Barbara Knopf served on the 1992 board of directors. Thirteen residents and three staff members hold the honors of being a part of Emerald Heights for 25 years. Included in the thirteen residents are five Charter Club Members. Current and former board members including Emerald Communities were welcomed, along with business partners from GLY Construction and Key Bank.
Grant Linacre served as Master of Ceremonies, guests were entertained by a series of speakers who recalled the early days of Emerald Heights, gave insight into the community spirit that is still alive and well, and shared some amusing anecdotes.
Starting the lineup of speakers was Lisa Hardy, CEO and President of Emerald Communities. Lisa took everyone on a walk down memory lane and shared highlights from history since Emerald Height’s inception through today. It is hard to believe that in 1979 gas was only $.86 per gallon, bacon was $1.48 per pound and the year-end closing for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 838! The most incredible memory from that time might be that the Eastside Retirement Association (ERA) incorporated and the volunteer board of directors began the long journey of developing Emerald Heights—with a grand total of a $1,000 bankroll. Lisa closed her speech with “Tonight we honor our past, celebrate our years of success as a community, and look forward to many, many more years to come.”
Kay Wallin represented herself and two staff members, who have worked at Emerald Heights for 25 years, Chi Tran and Ngoc Vu. It is obvious that their love for the residents and staff has made working at Emerald Heights enjoyable but who knew the true reason Chi and Vu are still here. Both admitted they would go crazy if they had to be at home with their retired husbands! Kay didn’t have anything to add as her husband still works. Kay did say she “…was excited about the opportunity to help bring a new community to life and in some small way, contributing to the creation of the community culture.” In closing Kay said on behalf of all of the employees “…it is an extraordinary privilege to be part of the Emerald Heights community” and thanked Chi and Vu for their service.
Jane Turnbull shared stories of the very, very early days when Whitney Corwin and Harry Wilson were taking the first steps in creating Emerald Heights. There were struggles in those early years. Before there was a building a construction trailer served as the offices for the board and first employees. While still in the construction trailer a disgruntled employee from the builder’s team locked everyone out and made off with the site drawings. The original board members, including Jane, Bill Dumar and Barbara Knopf persevered and did not let the dream die. The first Executive Director, Don Scott, along with the first residents created a culture of community and family.
Pat Duffy, Resident Council President, thanked the current and past members of the Council for their leadership and determination that has brought the council to where it is today. Pat asked all of the past presidents to stand, including 25 year resident and first Council President, Jean Gallios. The Emerald Heights Resident Council will celebrate 25 years in the spring of 2018.
Bob Crist, Emerald Communities board member, stepped in for Gary King who was called away at the last minute. Bob talked about the risk the early founders took on to get this place off the ground and shared the story of the first audit of the Eastside Retirement Association. It took place in Whitney Corwin’s kitchen, and there was only $100 cash in the account — that was the entire balance sheet. It wasn’t much, but it was the start of something big.
Danna VanHorn, Eastside Retirement Association Chair, spoke to the past, present and the future. Danna celebrated the success of the past and present board members for helping to create the culture of Emerald Heights; a community known for warm hospitality, resident engagement, adaptability and forward thinking. It is important that we continue to work together with our neighbors and the City of Redmond for the continued success of Emerald Heights.
The evening drew to a close as Grant thanked the planning committee, Rich Lake, Jim & Lydia Easley, Heidi Smith, Jean Gallios, Sharon Howell (staff) and the food service team. He gave a special thank you to Marty Banel for the many hours she spent on the seating chart. Grant ended the evening of celebration with a toast:
“As we look back on our past with sincere appreciation and gratitude to all of those who have lived, lead and served here – and as we look to the future and all of the blessings it will bring – may the walls of Emerald Heights always be too small to hold all of its’ friends.”